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Okey
Okey
79

OKEY, JOHN (d. 1662), regicide, was, according to Wood, 'originally a drayman, afterwards a stoker in a brewhouse at Islington near London, and then a poor chandler near Lion-key in Thames Street in London' (Fasti, 19 May 1649). Ludlow states that he was a citizen of London, had been 'first a captain of foot, then captain of horse, and afterwards major in the regiment of Sir Arthur Haslerig' (Memoirs, ed. 1894, ii. 333). He was quartermaster of a troop of horse in Essex's army in 1642, and, as captain of horse, Okey took part in the defence of Lichfield in April 1643 (Valour Crowned, or a True Helatum of the Proceedings of the Parliament Forces in the Close at Lichfield, 4to, 1643 ; Peacock, Army Lists, p. 48). In the new model Okey was colonel of the dragoons, and fought at Naseby, where his regiment was set to line the hedges on the left flank of the parliamentary army (A Letter from Colonel Okey to a Citizen of London, 4to, 1645). On 13 July Burrough Hill fort in Somersetshire surrendered to him, and he led the storming party at Bath on 29 July. On 1 Sept., during the siege of Bristol, he was taken prisoner by a sally of the garrison, but was released when it capitulated, and took part in the siege of Exeter (Sprigge, Anglia Bediviva, ed. 1854, pp. 75, 84, 104, 173). Okey adhered to the army in its dispute with the parliament in 1647 (Rushworth, vi. 471). During the second civil war he served in South Wales and took part in the battle of St. Fagan's (8 May 1648 ; Phillips, Civil War in Wales, ii. 351), He was appointed one of the king's judges, attended every sitting of that body excepting three, and signed the warrant for the king's execution (Nalson, Trial of Charles I).

Okey assisted in the suppression of the levellers in May 1649, and was one of the officers created masters of arts at Oxford on 19 May 1649 (Wood, Fasti), He took no part in the Irish campaign, but accompanied Cromwell to Scotlana in July 1650, and was left behind under the command of Monck when Cromwell pursued Charles II into England in August 1651. In August 1651 he captured some Scottish commissioners who were raising forces near Glasgow, and in September took part in the storming of Dundee, of which he has left a graphic account (Old Parliamentary History, xx. 23 ; Mackinnon, Coldstream Guards, i. 43).

Politically, Okey belonged to the extreme party in the army, was one of the presenters of the petition of 12 Aug. 1652, and was eager for the dissolution of the Long parliament (Mercurius Politicus, 12-19 Aug. 1652). Cromwell's expulsion of it, however, aroused his fears and suspicions, and he disapproved of the terms of the instrument of government and of Cromwell's assumption of the protectorate (Ludlow, ii. 347, 356, 406). In the parliament of 1654 Okey sat as member for Linlithgow and other Scottish boroughs. In November 1654 he and two other colonels circulated a petition, intended to be presented to parliament, setting forth their objections to the new constitution. For this ofience he was arrested, tried by court-martial, and condemned ; but, on submitting himself to the Protector's mercy, was pardoned as to his life, and simply cashiered (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1653-1654, p. 302 ; Thurloe, iii. 64, 147 ; Burton, Diary, iv. 167 ; Vaughan, Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, i. 85, 88). He retired to Bedfordshire, where he had bought a lease of the lordship of Leighton Buzzard and also the honour of Ampthill and Brogboro' Park (Cal, State Papers, Dom. 1660-1, p. 248; Lysons, Bedfordshire, pp. 39, 127, 683). Parliament had also settled upon him lands to the value of 300l. a year for his services in Scotland, so that, in spite of the loss of his commission, he was a rich man (Commons' Journals, vol. vii.) In 1657 Okey was concerned in getting up a protest against Cromwell's proposed assumption of the crown, entitled 'The Humble and Serious Testimony of many Hundreds of Godly People in the County of Bedford' (Thurloe, vi. 228-30). He had been apprehended in July 1656 on suspicion of a share in the plots of the fifth monarchy men, and he appears to have been again arrested in the spring of 1658 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1656-7, p. 581 ; ib. 1657-1658, p. 340 ; Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep.) In Richard Cromwell's parliament he represented Bedfordshire, but his speeches were few and brief (Burton, Diary, iii. 41, 43, 78, 248). When the Long parliament again took the place of Richard, one of their first acts was to vote Okey the command of a regiment (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1658-9, p. 383). In October 1659 he supported the parliament against the army, but was deserted by his regiment when he sought to 'resist Lambert, and was cashiered by the council of officers (Ludlow, ii. 134-7 ; Thurloe, vii. 755, 774 : Commons' Journals, vii. 796). He continued, nevertheless, actively to oppose Lambert's action, planned the surprise of the Tower, and when his scheme was discovered took refuge with Admiral Lawson and the fleet (Ludlow, ii. 169, 176). When the parliament was restored Okey regained his regiment, and was one of the seven commissioners appointed on 26 Dec. for the temporary government of